The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw (310 pages)
“The Wicked Deep” Feels Like A West Coast Companion to Modern Salem Stories
In 1823, the Swan Sisters, new to town and rather scandalous, are drowned for the crime of witchcraft on the Summer Solstice in the coastal town of Sparrow, Oregon. Now, as legend has it, the three sisters come back each Summer Solstice to inhabit the bodies of young girls to lure boys to their watery graves. While many in town believe this just coincidence, most believe the Sisters are real. When Penny, a bit of an outcast herself, meets new-to-town Bo, they begin to unravel this two-hundred-year-old mystery.
An Eerily Beautiful Tale of Revenge and Revelation
To be honest, I was initially drawn to The Wicked Deep by the cover (I know). The dark background is lit with iridescent wording and design. I feel like this is a good metaphor for the story. With the Salem-like executions of women outside the inner circle and the modern-day mystery, this story juggles many elements and does so almost flawlessly.
This paranormal mystery balances on a plane somewhere between the real and the supernatural. As the story opens, we learn that boys do in fact drown in the harbour every summer. We are unsure, as is protagonist Penny, whether this is due to terrible coincidence, some sort of dark pact, or is in fact the work of the Swan Sisters. All the while, the local high school students prepare for their annual Summer Solstice beach party.
During the party, some girls brave the dark waters, tempting the Swan Sisters to inhabit their bodies. The next day, a boy’s body is pulled from the harbour. Penny soon meets Bo, a newcomer, and fills him in on the town’s history. While Bo was unaware of the Swan Sisters’ legend, he has greater goals than tourism.
Throughout the book, Earnshaw balances many elements, including mystery, curses, and persecution, while also telling the story of two unlikely strangers falling for each other.
The Bottom Line: 4/5 Brookie Stars
This book’s atmosphere was truly brackish; I could almost taste the salt in the air as I read. I love the care Earnshaw takes to make the line between magical and real extremely blurry. Because Penny is a skeptic, we are able to view the town of Sparrow through familiar eyes and judge each new element as it comes.
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Rachel Gomes is a 30-something high school English teacher who lives with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband and their son. Rachel is a voracious reader who loves to learn and has her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. She’s happiest listening to podcasts and talking to friends about the latest news in nerd culture.
Favourite book: Don’t make me choose between A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter
Favourite brunch spot: The Farmer’s Table
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